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How we can fight to build a new workers' party
"ABANDONED BY New Labour, working people need a political voice," said Chris Baugh, assistant general secretary of the PCS union. He is not alone in thinking this. The recent council elections have exposed once again the current vacuum that exists on the left in British politics.
Imagine the role that a new mass party standing up for working people could play in uniting the struggles we are engaged in, giving workers confidence to fight back and offering a national platform to counter the lies and propaganda of the bosses.
In the fourteen months since its launch, the Campaign for a New Workers' Party has made important steps forward. The campaign now has more than 2,500 signatories to its 'declaration for a new workers' party'. Where the ideas of the campaign are boldly raised among trade unionists and campaigners, they get an excellent response. But so far, the campaign has only just scratched the surface of its potential, and that potential is likely to grow in the coming year.
Over the coming months, the CNWP will be organising fringe meetings at as many of the trade union conferences as possible to put forward the case for a new party. At the recent Unison union health conference 20 people signed the 'declaration for a new workers' party' and at just one PCS strike rally in Birmingham 22 people signed it. Supporters of the campaign aim to have 5,000 signatories by the end of 2007.
There will be a session at the CNWP conference this Saturday 12 May to discuss the specifics of campaigning for a new party and to lay out the tasks of the campaign for the next few months. Among the aims being put forward are:
- to commit the CNWP to producing a pamphlet on the case for public ownership and the need for a new workers' party;
- to actively take part in local campaigns against cuts and privatisation and popularise the idea of a new workers' party within them;
- to support the RMT rail union initiated Shop Stewards' Network conference on 7 July, encourage CNWP supporters to attend it from their unions and for them to promote the link between rebuilding the trade unions and shop stewards' movement and the need for a new workers' party;
- to organise a second CNWP speaking tour in the autumn out of which we aim to develop local CNWP campaigns further;
- to have a major participation in the national demonstration on the NHS taking place on 13 October;
- to approach all left councillors in the autumn to discuss a common agenda.
Set the agenda
At this stage, the key task of the campaign is to popularise the idea of independent political representation for workers, to get the idea of a new mass workers' party on the agenda. Therefore, in the trade union movement, in anti-cuts campaigns, in particular in fights against NHS cuts, the CNWP should be raised by all genuine campaigners, linking the particular struggle engaged in with wider issues and drawing out the need for a new party.
As actor and Shrewsbury Two campaigner Ricky Tomlinson put it: "Tony Blair has disembowelled the Labour Party. It's not New Labour, it's the New Phoney Labour Party and a growing number of people are fed up with it. We've now got to stop the rot." The only way to stop the rot is to fight for a new mass party that stands in the interests of the millions not the millionaires.
In The Socialist 10 May 2007:
Socialist Party election analysis
Campaign for a New Workers Party
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party workplace news